North Texas Therapy Referrals

I am often asked for therapist referrals in the Dallas/Denton area, so I thought I would make a post with my favorite professionals in the area. This list will be updated from time to time, so please feel free to leave any referrals or suggestions in the comments below.

All of the people and clinics posted here are recommended either from my own personal/professional contact with them, or from direct recommendations by people I know.

Feleshia Porter works in North Dallas, and is a fantastic source of support for individuals and couples, particularly for folks who are gender-nonconforming and for those in alternative relationships. Her office environment is really interesting and comfortable, and even one meeting with her can be incredibly helpful and affirming. She doesn’t take insurance, but offers necessary documentation for insurance reimbursement.

Dr. Lisa Hensley at Iris Psychological Service is an all-around amazing human and excellent psychologist working out of Arlington. She is dedicated to social justice, and specializes in working with folks from marginalized populations. She can do assessments, therapy, consultation, and education (she’s a former professor). She takes Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, and Cigna, and can provide documentation if you need reimbursement from any other insurance companies.

Dr. Kyle Erwin is a highly knowledgeable and affirming clinician in Denton.  His clinical training sites have included collegiate, community centers, and VA Hospitals. He specializes in the assessment and treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), other trauma related disorders, couple distress, substance use disorders, family psychotherapy, and LGBQ and Trans communities. He accepts Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Magellan, Aetna, Galaxy, and Medicare, and can provide documentation for out-of-network reimbursement.

Ruby B. Johnson is a social worker and chemical dependency counselor in Plano. She is a lot of fun, very kind and supportive. She specializes in substance abuse treatment, anxiety, depression, grief, and personal growth. She works with individuals, couples, and court-ordered clients, and is a certified Interactions Coach Practitioner. No insurance, but can give you documentation for reimbursement.

Dr. Erin Hammond is in McKinney, and is a licensed psychologist who can do assessments, therapy, and consultation. She’s incredibly gentle and kind-hearted, and is one of the best listeners I’ve ever met. She is very client-centered and works with a variety of populations, including gender-variant folks and people in alternative relationships. She takes Blue Cross/Blue Shield and private pay. Her website also has a comprehensive list of resources that are worth checking out.

Shawn Chrisman is in Dallas, near 75 and Walnut Hill. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in therapy for people with non-traditional sexual and relationship styles. He’s super affirming and has a very comfortable and calm demeanor. I know him professionally, and have heard good things from others who’ve worked with him.

Zandra Ellis is enthusiastic and passionate about her work, and enjoys working with all kinds of folks. She works only with substance abuse clients, and approaches individual, group, and family therapy from a gender- and orientation-affirming lens. She also does life coaching, African American and LGBTQ community-based work and is an excellent resource on trauma and DBT.

Dr Elizabeth Zedaran is a licensed psychologist in Richardson. She treats a variety of issues and is affirming of diverse identities and non-mainstream spiritual practices.

Dr. Steve Tankersley is a psychiatrist in Dallas (OakLawn area). He provides psychotherapy services and pharmacological management. He is affirming of identity/orientation, and specializes in chronic pain management.

Elizabeth Newsom is a clinical social worker offering therapy services in Dallas and in Plano. She specializes in depression, anxiety, relationship issues, spirituality, sexuality, and personal growth.

Renee Baker is a Trans-identified licensed professional counselor in Dallas; she has a long background working with young people and families, and is a dedicated social justice advocate. Renee is also a licensed massage therapist.

CeCe Dorough is a fantastic therapist in Dallas, and is affordable for clients paying out of pocket. She also takes insurance and can help with reimbursement documentation if you need that. She specializes in a variety of issues, and is affirming of alternative sexualities and lifestyles.

Don Greever is a licensed professional counselor in Dallas specializing in trauma, as well as other issues such as anxiety, depression, and interpersonal violence. Affirming of identity/orientation.

The University of North Texas Psychology Clinic (Denton) is open to the community on a sliding scale. This is a very affordable and reputable option. Clients work with trainee therapists who are under the supervision of faculty. The program is accredited by the American Psychological Association, and the clinicians there are generally very competent.

Richland Oaks Counseling Center is located in Richardson, and is affiliated with Argosy University. They are also a training clinic, and are affordable and accessible, with clinicians offering services in a number of different languages.

Dr. Marlys Lamar is a psychologist in Denton offering a variety of treatment approaches and specialties. She is dedicated to safe space and is affirming of all identities. She does not take insurance but offers sliding scale and insurance documentation.

Dr. Edita Ruzgyte is a counselor, educator, and AASECT certified sex therapist in Fort Worth. She sees individuals, couples, and families.

Elizabeth Gehrman is a marriage and family therapist in Forth Worth with over ten years of experience. Accepts most forms of insurance.

Peter Kahle is a doctor and faith based therapist, who is affirming of other identities and supportive of atheist/agnostic clients.

Julie Cross has over 20 years experience ranging from career counseling services to psychopharmacology and cognitive based treatments.

Aaron Brown specializes in treatment of the whole person, their values, relationships, and physical fitness as well as mental health.

Susie Hair serves the Dallas area with specialties in eating disorders and substance abuse.

Michael Salas primarily serves gay men and has extensive experience treating sex addiction, gender questioning individuals and their families, and also leads group therapy sessions dealing with shame and vulnerability.

Dr. Sherry Huey specializes in emotional disorders, sleep disorders, and ADHD.

Dr. Suresh Sureddi researching bipolar disorder and specializing in treatment for a range of emotional and sleep disorders.

Patrick Young has over 30 years experience treating children and adolescents with depression and ADHD and is LGBT affirming.

Lee Kinsey is a relationship counselor and sex therapist specializing in LGBT relationships, transgender services, and mood disorders.

Paulette Lee is explicitly affirming of clients from the polyamorous and kink communities, offering relationship and general counseling in an affirming, non judgmental atmosphere.

Dr. Anetta Ramsey runs Chrysalis Eating Disorder Center but also takes private patients. Does not take insurance, but strives to be affordable, as well as preserving safe space. Also runs a DBT focused weekly group therapy.

The Pensieve

In the fourth Harry Potter book, Dumbledore introduces us to the pensieve, a mystical bowl into which he can deposit the contents of his mind, and look at all his thoughts, ideas, and memories from a more objective perspective before putting it all back into his head.

It’s a beautiful idea, isn’t it? That there might exist a way in which we could silence the monkey-mind… that we could separate ourselves, just for a moment, from the things we are experiencing.

To me, the therapy room is like a pensieve. Clients come in, and bring with them all the experiences, thoughts, memories, problems, and confusions they carry with them throughout the day (it’s exhausting, right? carrying all that stuff?), and they pour it all out in front of the therapist. Then, together, the client and therapist can observe, analyze, brainstorm, decipher, explore, celebrate, mourn, and understand all those confusing and overwhelming ideas.

By having a therapist as your teammate, you’ve got another set of eyes on your pensieve – an objective person who is only on your side. They are trained to look into pensieves; they can see patterns, walk you through murky areas, identify snags and snarls, and help you find ways to smooth things out and make life a little better for yourself. They’re trained to help you know yourself better, not by telling you how to feel, but by helping you explore your pensieve more efficiently and effectively.

I love therapy. As a client, as a therapist, as an educator – I believe therapy can work wonders in anyone’s life. Finding a good therapist is key, because the pensieve only works well when everyone is comfortable. But when you find the right person, the amount of insight, self-growth, and personal productivity you can experience is truly revolutionary.

Finding a Sex-Positive Therapist

Last December I was honored to be a guest on “Let’s Talk Sex With Shanna Katz”, a live on-air talk show in Phoenix, Arizona. We were talking about sex and psychology and, naturally, the time flew by and we had barely scratched the surface when it was time to stop. I promised Shanna I would follow up my interview with some information for her listeners and readers – so here you go!

Types of therapists:

There are a lot of different kinds of therapists, and many different types of certifications and licensures. Here are a few common ones:

psychiatrist will have a medical degree (MD) as well as specialized training in mental health. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, and although some psychiatrists do provide counseling, many follow a more traditional medical approach and coordinate care with psychologists who provide talk therapy on a more regular basis.

Psychologists who provide counseling services typically hold either a Ph.D. (which requires a dissertation and is a research oriented degree) or a Psy.D. (which does not require a dissertation and is focused primarily on practice rather than research). Psychologists are trained in neurology, assessment and diagnostics, counseling, and research. Many also receive training in pharmacology, and in some states are allowed to prescribe certain medications. State licensure is required to be identified as a psychologist.

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) hold a master’s degree and receive a supervised clinical training during and after graduation. They generally work with families and couples, although they are licensed and qualified to provide individual therapy as well.

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Social Workers (LCSWs or MSWs) also hold master’s degrees and receive training in areas such as social services, advocacy, and counseling. They work in a variety of settings and often specialize in particular fields, such as addictions or grief.

Sex Therapist is someone who has training as a therapist as well as specialized knowledge about sex and sexuality. She or he may hold any of the licensures listed above, and there are also a couple of universities that offer graduate degrees in Sex Therapy.

You can’t really tell if a therapist is going to be a good fit for you based on their degree or title, but you should definitely look for someone who attended a reputable training program and who is licensed.

Finding a Therapist:

Finding a therapist can be difficult, especially if there are parts of your lifestyle or identity that are generally stigmatized by mainstream medical care. Even if you have insurance, you may want to consider looking out-of-network to find someone who is a good fit. Many counselors offer sliding scale fees or will provide insurance reimbursement forms.  If you need to stay in a network, though, don’t give up. Sometimes you’ll need to meet a few therapists before you find the right one for you.

Word of mouth is always a great tool if you’re willing to ask around, but if seeking therapy is something that’ s private for you, that’s okay. Here are some other resources:

Psychologist Locator
The Therapy Directory
Kink Aware Professionals
Scarleteen Find a Doc

Choosing a Therapist:

The Gracious Mind handWhen choosing a therapist, you’re looking for someone that you feel like clicks with you. Therapists operate from a variety of different approaches, and what actually happens in the therapy room can vary widely, so if something doesn’t feel right, you can keep looking. Therapy is intensely personal work, and will be challenging, so you need to feel connected to and safe with the person you’re working with.

First, make sure that the practitioner has training in the area you are seeking help with. If you are dealing with sexual assault, find someone who has experience working with that kind of trauma. If you need to address family issues in a multi-partner relationship, you’ll need someone who is skilled with systemic or family therapy. If you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction, you may want to seek a sex therapist or someone who has training specifically in the area of sexuality.  Many therapists have training and experience in more than one area, which is good, because humans are complex and are often experiencing more than one problem at once!

When you are ready to make an appointment, you don’t have to say why you’re calling over the phone. Just ask for an initial appointment and let them know you’re interviewing therapists. When you sit down with the therapist and start talking about why you’re there, pay attention to your instincts. Is the counselor receptive to your concerns? Does she or he answer your questions? How do they react when you disclose your relationship style/occupation/sexual preferences?

A lot of counselors are not going to be familiar with sex-positive language. Ignorance about your lifestyle is not necessarily a bad thing, but a chilly reception or a closed perspective on it should be warning signs that it might not be a good fit. I have worked with a number of therapists who, although completely unaware of alternative relationship styles, were very interested in resources and education I could provide. It’s not your job to educate your therapist, but if they’re open-minded and willing to learn, providing a few resources could definitely work in your favor.

Do not be afraid to voice your fears about therapy or the therapist – they’ll be more than ready to discuss that with you because it’s not uncommon! Any therapist that would take offense at that does not need to be your therapist. It’s not uncommon to feel awkward at first, but talking about your concerns is a great way to start to build that therapeutic relationship.

The Therapeutic Relationship

The Gracious Mind therapyThe relationship you have with your therapist is really unique. It is most likely the only relationship you will ever have where the other person has no connection to anyone else in your world and who is solely interested in your welfare. It truly is amazing, when you think about it! It’s like having your own private cheerleader and coach that no one else can touch.

The therapeutic relationship is often a comfortable environment where you can explore yourself in privacy and safety. At the same time, it can sometimes mimic your outside relationships. If you tend to get angry quickly, you’ll probably get angry in therapy. That’s a good thing because it lets you figure out what’s going on with the help of someone who is actually comfortable with your anger. Same idea with sadness, or any other emotion. We’re often taught to shut down our emotions, and that can make us uncomfortable with other people’s emotions too. It’s a unique experience to sit with someone who is comfortable with emotion.

The therapeutic relationship can take time to develop, and, since that relationship has been shown to be the most important factor in therapeutic progress, therapy does take time. It’s kind of like working out – you don’t go to the gym for an hour and then wonder why you aren’t looking more muscular. It takes time, consistent work, and some soreness too – therapy isn’t always comfortable, and it can sometimes feel worse before it feels better.

More questions? Let me know.